Prayer

Saint Helena, Empress

Saint Helena's statue in the Vatican
St. Helena in St. Peter's

Today we celebrate the feast of St. Helena, an important saint in the church and in the iconography of our own parish.

St. Helena, whose son battled his way to imperial power ultimately under the banner of the Christian cross, was brought to the imperial court by her son and deputed to search for sites important to Christians in the Holy Land. Well into her senior years, she directed the demolition of pagan shrines often built over these sites and undertook excavations in Jerusalem which ultimately uncovered the True Cross, the tomb of Jesus and other precious relics.

Her pilgrimage and building opened the way for countless other pilgrims through the centuries to make the difficult journey to the holy sites in and around Jerusalem.

Travel pilgrimages survive today as a form of devotion, though usually not as perilous as those of yesteryear. The journey theme itself, however, is still an important metaphor for the life of Christian discipleship: we begin our challenging journey in this life in the footsteps of Jesus and follow His Way to the heavenly Kingdom. 

St. Helena's energy and enthusiasm for new projects in her senior years, her resilience of spirit following her divorce by her husband and her hope to search for the unseen can be inspirations for us today. We too, should revere Jesus' memory and the places he trod during His earthly life.

Let us ask her protection on life's journey as we follow Jesus on The Way.

 

 


Forgive Us Our Trespasses As We Forgive Those Who Trespass Against Us


The Balance ScalesWhat interesting Scripture readings for mass this morning. The first reading recounts Joshua's passage through the River Jordan with the Ark of the Covenant and the entire people of Israel, mirroring Moses' passage through the Red Sea - both leading the people to the Promised Land.

The gospel is from Matthew, whose gospel is carefully constructed around Mosaic themes, depicting Jesus as the "New Moses," who fulfills the Old Covenant and forms a new Covenant with his people. Like Moses and Joshua, but surpassing them both, Jesus leads them into the Kingdom of God.

The parable of the unforgiving servant reminds us that old rules no longer apply in the New Kingdom. The "lex talionis" or eye-for-an-eye is an overly rigorous expression of justice. Instead, we should show the same freely given forgiveness Jesus issues to us to our brothers and sisters in return.

Today, some grudge, resentment or unpaid debt will surely come to mind before Communion. Let us ask Jesus to help us release it, for in doing so we not only release our debtor, but our own spirit too. If we can't find the forgiveness in our own heart yet, we can surely find it in the Heart of Jesus.

 

 

 


The Solemnity of the Assumption of Mary

In 1950 Pius XII infallibly defined the dogma of the Assumption of Mary, a belief already held by Catholics and many other Christians since the early days of the church. The dogma deliberately leaves open the question of whether Mary suffered death before her assumption prevented bodily deterioration. 

In 2005 on the Solemnity of the Assumption of Mary,  the statue of Our Lady of Grace which stands atop our Carriage House was dedicated in Mary's honor and with prayers that she intercede for our parish and its people.

Dedication of Our Lady of Grace Statue at Holy Cross, Solemnity of the Assumption
Our Lady Of Grace at Holy Cross Church Rumson


St. Maximilian Kolbe, Martyr of Charity

Saints in Heavenly CloudsWhile canon lawyers are still discussing the technical requirements of the Catholic church for being declared a martyr, we should not miss Maximilian Kolbe's heroic life of virtue long before he volunteered to take the place of a condemned man in a Nazi concentration camp. His self-sacrifice and service to others continued even in the bleak starvation bunker with his fellow prisoners.

Pope Francis' recent motu proprio, "Greater Love Than This" defined a new category of sainthood -an offering of life. Traditionally, the death of a martyr for the faith had to occur as a direct and immediate hatred for the Catholic faith on the part of the oppressor toward the victim. 

 “They are worthy of special consideration and honor, those Christians who, following in the footsteps and teachings of the Lord Jesus, have voluntarily and freely offered their lives for others and have persevered until death in this regard.”

Pope Francis, Majorem hac dilectionem.

 

 


Stormy Seas and Seawalking

bicycle riding, learning, parents, training wheels

I laughed when St. Peter's sinking

into the stormy waves

reminded me of learning

To ride a bike.

For my first brief solo flights

without training wheels, 

I was fine until I realized

Dad wasn’t holding on anymore.

And then...crash...right into the hedges!

 

 

This gospel is wonderful encouragement

as we strive to follow Jesus.

First, encouragement not to lose faith

For it is then we begin to sink.

       There’s a point at which

       All the books about prayer

       Can’t teach us to pray

       If we don’t begin to pray

       And then stop worrying

       If we’re doing it right.

Second, reassurance

That if we’re heading

In the right direction...toward Jesus

And following his commands

He won’t let us sink.

 

St. Augustine preached

A wonderful homily

On this gospel

On which we can reflect

After we realize that

Augustine asks us

To make, “Lord, I’m sinking.”

Is not always easy to admit.

But we need not keep

Up a bravado with God - 

A false front of security

And calm, even if done

For the sake of others.

God doesn’t require it.

You are not walking on the lake like Peter
but on another sea, for this world is a sea;
Trials its waves, temptations its storms,
and men devouring each other as fishes do.
Don't be afraid, step out stoutly lest you sink.
When the gale blows and the waves rise,
and your weakness makes you fear you will be lost,
cry out, 'Lord, I am sinking,'
and he who bade you walk will not let you perish.

St. Augustine via At The Edge of the Enclosure a wonderful resource for prayerful reflection on Scripture each Sunday.


Could St. Clare Watch Television With You?

TvPope Pius XII named St Clare, virgin and abbess,  patron saint of television due to her reported ability to "watch" mass on the wall of her room when she was unable to attend in the chapel due to illness. She had one of the earliest big screen televisions?

Her radical commitment to poverty, chaste living and prayer, especially in the Eucharist are counter-cultural images to our age of acquisition, sexual promiscuity and self-deification. 

Could we invite her to watch the television images we project on our walls?

 


Enough? Enough!

Loaves and Fishes

Many times we find ourselves asking the question, "Enough?"

If we fall under the spell of modern advertisers our answer is certainly "no." We become convinced no one can never have enough money or popularity or youth or time. When we find ourselves in this state of worry, the tone my parents used to signal an end to family bickering is appropriate - "Enough."

In prayer, we might approach God with an earnest plea for help or courage or assistance in carrying out a project, dealing with a difficulty or using a blessing. "Enough?"

Whatever the circumstance, God's grace is sufficient. There is enough mercy, enough love. God's gentle, reassuring answer through Christ,  "Enough!"


Parish Day of Recollection in Advent - December 5th at Saint Alfonso Retreat House

Save the date:                                         

Tuesday, December 5th    9:00 AM - 2:30 PM

Saint Alfonso Retreat House, West Long Branch

$ 35/person includes lunch and refreshments

Three Redemptorist priests will preach the retreat which concludes with Mass at 2:30 P.M.

Confession will be available.

 

 

                


Art, Film, Faith and Prayer

ImageImage Journal is always an interesting collection of prose, poetry and art, but the summer issue deals with film, specifically life changing, meaningful film

It's not specifically Christian, so there are the usual articles against hierarchical and organized religion, but these are occasional and can usually be avoided easily should the reader choose. 

In the summer film issue, notable writers and directors give their recommendations for must-see films of faith. Even reading the story lines of the recommended movies gives much food for thought.

 

 

 

 

 

  Film
For Christian reviews and recommendations, check out Josh Larsen's Movies are Prayers or visit a website he edits, Think Christian . Larsen's reviews are insightful and in the spirit of mainstream Christian thinking.
Think


Life, Marriage, Religious Liberty Are Threatened

Ctp-2-350x250The US Bishops have re-issued a call to American Catholics to pray and fast on Fridays for the protection of all human life, religious liberty and the dignity of marriage and the sacrament of matrimony.

One suggestion is to abstain from eating meat on Fridays (just like the olden days). 

Holy Hours, rosaries and specific times for family prayer, e.g. around the shared table are other worthy suggestions. 

Visit their website for other suggestions: 

 

Bishops Call To Prayer for Life Marriage and Religious Liberty


Join In A Holy Hour This "First Thursday" 6:00 PM until 7:00 PM

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Join us for all or part of the Holy Hour on this coming Thursday, the vigil of First Friday. Since Jesus' Gethsemane prayer, this is a day of prayer for reparation and mercy and watchful waiting with our Lord. 

It will be a quiet hour of Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament for those who choose to wait and watch with the Lord.

6:00 PM until 7:00 PM


Solemnity of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus

Sacredheart
Our novena prayers to the Sacred Heart culminate in the solemnity of today's celebration.

Every pope in modern times has affirmed devotion to the Sacred Heart, an idea which when it was first introduced to the church after almost one hundred centuries seemed strange to some. It is difficult to trace the roots to the devotion, but some feel it began with the piety surrounding the wounds of Christ, of which his wounded heart always held primacy. It was His last; it was His deepest. Critics of the devotion thought that reverence to a body part, especially a human body part of Christ denied his full divinity and was akin to some practices in nature worship. Many Protestants and even Eastern Orthodox Christians avoid this devotion. 

There is a long list of saints and blessed who promoted the devotion, including the Jesuit and Dominican orders themselves. Most famously perhaps, the revelations of St. Mary Mary Alacoque popularized the devotion and popes, especially since Pius XI have written about it, grounding devotion to the Sacred Heart on solid theological and ecclesial footings. Saint Pope John Paul II's writings are particularly suited for the modern reader. 

At least two essential elements mark the devotion to the Sacred Heart: reparation and mercy. We cooperate with the reparation of sins by Jesus whenever we offer prayer and penance for the indifference or offenses of ourselves or others. We are also bathed in an endless font of mercy and forgiveness by the blood and water flowing in love from Christ's wounded side. 

 

 


Blessed Father's Day

 

Father

A Prayer for Christian Fathers

Heavenly Father,
you entrusted your Son Jesus,
the child of Mary,
to the care of Joseph, an earthly father.
Bless all fathers
as they care for their families.
Give them strength and wisdom,
tenderness and patience;
support them in the work they have to do,
protecting those who look to them,
as we look to you for love and salvation,
through Jesus Christ our rock and defender.

Amen.

 

It was great to see so many fathers and their families at mass today! God bless us all!


School Getting Ready To Dive Into Summer Vacation!

Diving_board_131981Today is a half-day of school and many classes will take the time not only to clean up their classrooms, but also to bid goodbye to our principal Mr. Bill Belluzzi. 

Our new principal, Dr. Mark DeMareo, will have his formal meeting with our faculty tomorrow on the last day of school.

Tomorrow is the official last-day-of-school starting off with our the last school mass of this academic year at 9:00 AM in the church. All parishioners are invited and we hope to see many parents there to give thanks to God for the blessings we received this past year and to ask God's protective care during the summer months.

 


Novena To The Sacred Heart Of Jesus

Sacred heartToday we began a novena to the Sacred Heart of Jesus initiating nine days of prayerful preparation before the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart on June 23rd. It is celebrated on the date asked of St. Margaret Mary Alacoque during the apparitions to her of the Sacred Heart. 

The practice of novenas may originate from the Roman custom of honoring their dead for 9 days. Indeed, novenas of mourning are still one of the popular type of novena prayers - recall the novena published by the USCCB after the death of St. Pope John Paul II. But there are other types of novenas as well: preparation for a feast, prayers for specific intentions or to obtain indulgences.

We began praying the novena when St. Pope John Paul II designated the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart as a day of worldwide prayer for the Sanctification of Priests. 

Join us in public prayer or private devotional prayer for the Catholic priesthood and our priests.

 

 


Second Monthly Fatima Prayer Indulgence

Tuesday, June 13th was the second monthly anniversary of the apparitions at Fatima indulgenced by Pope Francis. We prayed them after the 9:00 AM mass as a group, but our statue is exposed for veneration all day.

There is an interesting book on the challenges of crafting a statue according to the directions of Sister Lucia, the visionary who survived the longest, written by the priest-sculptor, Fr. Thomas McGlynn: Vision of Fatima  has been recently re-published. It gives good insight on the apparitions, Sister Lucia's personality and the variations in the public images of the apparitions.

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